Every day, millions of people log onto Facebook and other social networking sites to post information on everything from political views to relationship statuses. Security and the expectation of privacy are considerably different now than even a few years ago. Consequently, the line between right and wrong becomes considerably blurred. A woman from Morristown, New Jersey is currently facing charges of identity theft all because of a fictional profile she allegedly posted on Facebook.
According to testimony, the woman created a fake profile on the popular social networking site for an ex-boyfriend. On it, she allegedly posted personal information about him and negative, inflammatory comments.
The charges were initially challenged by the defense attorney. He requested that the case be dismissed on the grounds that the New Jersey impersonation law referenced in the charges does not mention electronic communications. Therefore, he argued, the current law does not cover the alleged actions of his client.
Despite the additional argument made by the defense that there is no way to quantify the harm allegedly caused by his client, a judge disagreed and allowed the case to continue to pretrial on Dec. 7.
Online impersonation is an unfortunate trend in today’s increasingly digital world. Although many websites do have individual terms of service agreements that explicitly define their own standards and punishments, the jurisdictional boundaries of the Internet are non-existent. Therefore, enforcement and penalties of online actions are vague at best.
Because of this, actions considered merely negative by some, may turn out to be grounds for pressing criminal charges according to others. Until more precise laws are in place, the legal system can be confusing and full of loopholes and fuzzy definitions.
Frequently, cases involving Internet crimes are extremely complex and require the expertise and assistance from an experienced defense lawyer.
Source: Associated Press, “Judge: Case of fake Facebook profile can proceed,” Nov. 3, 2011